The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has approved a $324.6m Title XI loan guarantee for TOTE Shipholdings to provide funding for the construction of two container ships.
The dual fuel ships that use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as propulsion fuel will be constructed at General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) in San Diego, US.
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "This is proof-positive that when we work to build America’s green energy economy, we can directly support the creation of meaningful jobs, supporting the President’s goal to strengthen America’s middle class.
"This one action significantly decreases emissions, supports jobs from one coast to the other, bolsters the nation’s manufacturing base and continues growing our economy."
The project will create 600 jobs at NASCCO during the construction and 60 new US merchant mariner jobs after the competition of works.
US Maritime Administration (MARD) administrator Paul Jaenichen said: "The shipbuilding industry contributes more than $36bn to our national economy."
Delivery of the ships is expected to be in 2015 and 2016, and these will be used to transport containers, automobiles and other cargoes in Jones Act trade between the Port of Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.
The US Title XI loan guarantee programme aims to develop its shipyard and merchant marine through guaranteeing the construction of US vessels in the country.
The programme also ensures the repayment of loans that ship owners obtained in the private sector for the projects in the US shipyards.